Sunday, February 28, 2010

20 Tips for Tough Times

From my book: Forget-Me-Not, Forget-Me-Never, Remember The Fun We Had Together.

May your joys be as deep as the ocean,
And your sorrows as light as its foam.
Your loving friend,
January 29, 1905

The photo is of the Atlantic Ocean at Rockaway Park, 1908.

We all go through bad days, bad weeks, bad years at a time. As a single gal for 20 years, I found myself many times minus a roommate, in between jobs, without a job, with three jobs (workaholic), without a boyfriend, and at 32, after being bed ridden for 2 years, I lost my Father to Emphysema.

Whether suddenly out of a job or suffering through the death of a loved one, the following are twenty tips (in no particular order) that have helped me through tough times, so hopefully will help you, dear reader.

  1. If you cannot figure out who you are, figure out who you are NOT. Figuring out who you are NOT is half the battle. Make a list of your personal strengths/weaknesses on a legal pad. Argue both sides of your case, thinking as a lawyer would think. Write down a person or people you most admire. Seek out a counselor, physiologist or minister/rabbi, if you have the need.

  2. Take care of yourself and your daily needs. Your body is your temple. Take that shower. Brush your teeth and shave. Tuck your shirt in and shine your shoes. Take pride in your appearance. If you can no longer afford that hair appointment, go to the local cosmetology school for an inexpensive haircut. If you cannot afford a new suit to look for a job, seek out a Goodwill store, local charitable organization specializing in business clothes, or vintage clothing store. Vintage is chic! You will be amazed at the fashion you can find.

  3. Everyone needs to have a night out and "blow it out" every now and again. Have one or two nights out with friends and indulge. Be always with your group or buddy. Have a nice glass of wine with a good meal and interesting conversation. Sing and dance. Enjoy yourself. Be safe. Be careful, though. Do not make an occasional indulgence a habit. We all know healthy behaviors from bad, unhealthy behaviors. It is easier and seemingly more fun for some people to hide from their own thoughts and themselves by consistently indulging in bad behaviors, thus, running away from themselves and their circumstances. Just know, if you choose this lifestyle, do not expect to drag everyone else into it with you. You may find yourself by yourself with transient friends, transient jobs, transient living situations, thus, a transient life. A chaotic life is at best, a harder life. In the long run, a lifetime is a long time. Yet, some people are addicted to chaos then, become addicted to the anger that develops from the chaos. Do not let this type of bad behavior become your habit, your life.

  4. If you cannot figure out exactly what you want to do for a living, figure out exactly what you DO NOT want to do for a living. Make a list on a legal pad of your professional strengths/weaknesses, what you want to do/do not want to do. Argue both sides of your case, again, as a lawyer would argue. Write down your dream job. Write down your natural God-given talents. If you do not know, visit a career center at a nearby community college or university and take tests/seek career counseling/educational opportunities. One will always have one's good brain to use and utilize all throughout one's life. It is NEVER too late to go back to school, learn a new trade or refine a talent you have just for your enjoyment and fun after work. Painting, carpentry, writing, cleaning, singing, tutoring, care giving, cooking, shop, sewing, travel, etc.

  5. What do YOU want out of you life? What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish of your own? What was your favorite subject in school? Chances are, you excelled at the subjects you enjoyed. Everyone has hidden talents. Preferably, do what you love for a living, but if you cannot, do it for yourself after working hours.

  6. Make and take time out for yourself. Be selfish with your time until you get through your rough time. Tell your friends you are taking a bit of time out. Do not complain to all your friends or you will find yourself spending time and taking care of your friends instead of yourself. If you can, when you can, take a weekend or week off and go away by yourself. Go camping, go on a retreat, go to a spa. Be alone with your thoughts so you can ground yourself, gather your strength and figure out what is important to you, and what your priorities are in your life.

  7. Eleanor Roosevelt said: "You teach other people how to treat you," and it is true. Be kind and polite always, but strong.

  8. For at least 1/2 hour per day, or more, turn OFF the Cable TV/Cell phone/Radio/I-Pod so you may have some quiet time to think. My husband purposefully takes time out to mow the grass so he may think about grand ideas or a small angle for his company. He thinks about how other people can make money for him so he may have more time to think of more ideas for more little angles. One idea and one angle at a time.

  9. Cancel your membership at the gym. You can instead go for walks/runs around your neighborhood. You can do sit ups and other exercises in your living room. Take the gym membership money and put it into the bank. Exercise or stretch out a bit every day. Little work outs to feel a bit better.

  10. Keep any social club or country club memberships if you can. You may use social clubs for informal networking, community involvement, group support, volunteering, and other opportunities.

  11. Pretend like you are shopping and take the money you would normally spend shopping and put it in the bank. Have only one credit card and only use it for emergencies and vacations. Shop around for cheaper car insurance, life insurance, health insurance. You do not need to pay an agent. You can get better deals managing your own insurances yourself. If you do not have a checking account, open one up. Always keep your eyes out for new banks with "free checking for life" accounts. If you have a checking account, open a savings account. If you have a savings account, open a money market account. If you have all of these accounts, buy some Treasury Bonds, or invest in the stock market. Don't worry about meeting the minimums right away. Build it up a bit at a time. Put spare change in a small drawer rather than in a jar. Put spare dollar bills in your purses or pants/jacket pockets and forget about it.

  12. Donate not with a check, but donate in kind. For example, instead of giving money to your church/temple, offer to clean the chapel or do repairs or yard work around the church once a week or once a month. Volunteer for church school, or in the church nursery, or drive the shuttle bus. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity for your vacation.

  13. When cooking, or baking, make double the recipe and take the extra half to an elderly neighbor, less fortunate neighbor, or local organization that feeds shut-ins or a homeless shelter.

  14. Clean out your garage. Bring unwanted tools and sporting equipment and vehicles to your local homeless shelter. Clean out your kitchen pantry. Bring your unwanted canned goods to the local food bank. Clean out your makeup drawer. Bring all the unused makeup and unused free samples to the local battered woman's shelter. You cannot even imagine how a bit of makeup helps a battered woman's confidence!

  15. Volunteer for one evening or one afternoon, once per week or once per month somewhere, anywhere. If time is an issue (because you have three jobs as I used to have), then volunteer to serve a holiday meal at a homeless shelter.

  16. If you are fortunate enough to have a large or supportive family lean on them, or lean on a select few friends. If you have neither family or friends, please find counsel in a local church/temple, school or civic group.

  17. Clean out your closets,cabinets, attic, bookshelves, basement, storage unit,etc. Give away clothes, shoes and things you have not worn or used in 5 years. Giving to others less fortunate than yourself will take your worry off yourself and will lift your heart up.

  18. Give away all the fussy, time taking things in your house that require too much of your time to keep up or that cause you stress. For example, old silver, old pewter or copper, or even plants that require too much effort. Keep your animals as they reduce stress unless they have become unruly. If you have an animal and have had a new baby, or have an animal that belonged to a deceased family member and the animal is or has become unruly, give the animal away to a friend, or take the animal to a "No Kill" shelter.

  19. Do NOT act like a victim. You will wear others out with your constant complaining about all your daily problems. After a certain age (25), everyone has their own problems and does not need to hear your daily complaints. You choose your own behavior thus, you must put up with the outcome. If you do not care for the outcome, change your behavior. The same behavior will result in the same outcome. Little changes. One day at a time, like putting a quarter in a cup, every day. Build on small changes every day and stick with it. Patience is a virtue!

  20. No one else can live your life for you just as you cannot live others' lives for them. No one else will take care of the personal you. It is so easy to loose your own identity, your own soul, your own energy, your own patience taking care of everyone else in this highly stressful, highly competitive, fast paced, technology driven life. Make time for yourself because no one else will.

Make time to utilize your good mind, and take care of yourself, dear reader.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Be Your Own Superstar On Facebook and Twitter

If we are who our friends are on Facebook and Twitter, then we are what we post on Facebook and Twitter, right?

The content of what you post on Facebook and Twitter says much about what is important to you in your life. It tells others what style of life you live and what type of person you are in your life. Or, does it merely tell what type of persona you put forward for others to read and see?
Are your posts on Facebook and Twitter regularly relevant, useful, witty, timely, and informative? Or, are your posts simple, to the point, politically and socially correct, innocuous and possibly considered mundane by others, but orderly? Are your posts eclectic or about the same subject over and over. Are you regularly on Facebook and Twitter, or are your posts irregular? Does the tone of your posts come across as soulful, angry, needy, coy, mean, lonely, busy, happy or sarcastic? How is their after taste? What do you come away with after reading another friend's posts? After a while, do you feel as though you know the lifestyle of your friends better? Do your friends put forward only a snapshot of their lives, a resume of their lives, or their life story? Too much information or too little? Not enough interesting information or too much controversial information?

Are you a single gal or an "Empty Nester" who posts many photos of your animals, or your rose garden? Do you Twitter about being on the Red Carpet, or taking a shower? Are you in your thirties with teenagers and many neighborhood friends at the pool drinking a glass of wine while watching the kids swim? Do you Twitter about political causes? Do you live in the country and have horses and post riding photos? Are you a serious career woman and post only business related information? Are you a sports guy and post links to The America's Cup? Or, are you a gentleman farmer and post vacation photos from St. Barth's? Are you a Socialite who posts a 'thank you' to all the hosts from all the parties you've ever attend possibly forgetting other friends may not have been invited? Is order important in your life so you post what you are eating for dinner?
Are some posts more interesting than others? Yes,but dos that make the more interesting posts more important? No, just different.
What if you don't Twitter and don't Facebook at all? Is your life going to be less fulfilling because of your lack of participation? No, just different.
Just remember, Facebook and Twitter are as my friend put it: "public babble", so be careful what you write and mind the photographs you post. Pay attention to the aftertaste of your posts and make sure it is the persona you want to put forward to others.

Eat peach ice-cream with a peachy aftertaste, enjoy and have fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The First 10 of George Washington's 100 "Rules of Civility" Updated!

From my book: "Forget-Me-Not, Forget-Me-Never, Remember The Fun We Had Together:"

If pleasures path you wish to see,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak, of whom you speak,
And when, and how, and where.

Florence Gaynor
June 21, 1906

At 16 years of age, George Washington wrote his own 100 "Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation" and published them into a book. He lived by these 100 rules most of the rest of his life.

Some sharp students at The University of Virginia are updating these 100 rules in their own study called "The Civility Project." The following are The Sabot School of Etiquette's modern take on the first ten of these rules:

1. Washington: "Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are present."

1. SSOE: Stand up straight and for introductions, keep your hands at your side, look people directly in the eyes, and smile. Seeing the BAFTA awards on BBC this weekend, I saw the actress Kristin Stewart from the popular "Twilight" movies accept an award. I watched in horror as she vigorously scratched her head with all fingers and both hands, then continued running her fingers through her hair throughout her acceptance speech at the podium. Yuck!

2. Washington: "When in Company, put not your hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered."

2. SSOE: Keep your hands out of your pockets. Do not touch your head or fix your wedgie when in public. We have a local news reporter "man on the street" who reports his stories with one hand holding his mic and the other hand in his pant pocket. What is going on in there? Was he raised by wild dogs?

3. Washington: Shew Nothing yo your Friend that may affright him.

3. SSOE: Never embarrass another person. Leaders always make others feel special. As corny as it may sound, always speak positively so others will always want to be around you, who wouldn't?

4. Washington: In the Presence of Others, Sing not to yourself with a Humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.

4. SSOE: Keep your voice and hands to yourself. Keep your cellphone put away when with company as well. Do not whistle, hum or fiddle with your fingers in public. Also, if you are anything other than a heart surgeon, do not fiddle with your cell phone while at a meal or a party. One does not HAVE to be connected to all one's friends ALL the time. As my Father used to say: "If they need you, they will get you. They will call back." Let your friends wonder what mysterious delicacies you may be delighting in for a while. Be a bit in demand.

5. Washington: If you Cough, Sneeze, Sigh or Yawn, do it not loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.

5. SSOE: Turn your head to the side if you must sneeze. Use a Kleenex or handkerchief. In an emergency, use your hand. Then, excuse yourself to the restroom and wash your hands. If you have bad allergies, and have a runny nose all the time, best only to "Dab" your nose with a tissue or hankie at the table. DO NOT blow your nose at the table. Best to go to the restroom. NEVER blow your nose into your napkin while at a meal. Gross! Cover your mouth when you cough or must yawn. Try to smile and breath in during a yawn in front of others if you cannot turn your head.

6. Washington: Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

6. SSOE: Pause look and listen. True listening is when you are not planning out what to say as soon as the other person is finished speaking. Always stand for introductions. Opinions on religion and politics still upset others and still should preferably not be discussed at parties. Pay attention to others when walking in a group.

7. Washington: Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half dressed.

7. SSOE: Gentlemen, DO NOT take off your dress jackets at semi-formal or formal events, even when dancing. I have been at many a formal wedding and Black Tie charity event when the Father of the Bride or Chairman has to ask a gentleman to put back on his jacket. Don't be that guy! Also, even if you are not a pajama guy, buy a robe and use it!

8. Washington: At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

8. SSOE: Move over in your circle if someone joins in the conversation, and do not start yelling your opinion over others in order to be heard. It is hard in this 24 hour world of constant communication to NOT copy the poor example of all the "Talking Heads" on TV and NOT over talk another person, or raise your voice in a growing circle of conversation. Most people like listening to their own voices, so if you must be heard, go home and write in a journal or start a blog.

9. Washington: Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.

9. SSOE: Do not spit in public and do not put your feet up onto the table in the kitchen or around food.

10. Washington: When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.

10. SSOE: Treat your seat like a church pew. Sit with both feet squarely on the floor. Do not sit on your ankles. Do not wrap your feet around your chair. In Asian and Middle Eastern countries, showing the sole of your shoe is considered rude and insulting.

Just a few first ten tips from three hundred years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stump The Etiquette Lady - Valentine Anxiety at School

Our Second Grader refuses to go to school on Valentine's Day. Last year, she received mean Valentine cards that said: "You are ugly," and "You are stupid." Our daughter is kind yet very shy, she gets straight A's but is extremely tall and skinny. She does get teased all the time. What should we do?
Call a meeting immediately with the teacher and the principal. The teacher should know her classroom well enough to recognize the bullies, and they should be reprimanded.
Softly explain to your daughter it is her kindness which makes her a leader and she will grow up to be a better person with empathy for others because of this quality.
At The Sabot School of Etiquette, our #1 rule is: "Leaders always make others feel special." Leaders are always positive and include rather than exclude. Leaders never make another person feel sad or embarrassed or humiliated. True leaders are people whom everyone wants to be around. Who wouldn't?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Handmade Love. Hearts and Happiness. A Homemade Valentine's Day with Love.

The Catholic Priest, Father Valentine, combined with Faunas, the Roman pagan God of Fertility adds up to our modern celebrated St. Valentine's Day. With 180 million roses and 6 million boxes of chocolates sold, Valentine's Day is overall a 14 Billion dollar holiday in the US.*
With all this hype, social pressures, TV commercials, media adds, movies and more, as a single girl with a tiny family for 20 years, Valentine's Day for me was an awful, annoying struggle against loneliness. It was an annual and agonizing reminder that there was no significant other to share in my life. Not to sound too much like an "After School Special," my Mother always sent a red heart-shaped box of Russell and Stover chocolates, yet, somehow not the same. Once, at 27, a boyfriend presented the roses, perfume and chocolates, as he knew I had not yet received the "Red Carpet" Valentine's Day treatment, but alas, the relationship did not last.
Finally, as a married lady with a large family, Valentine's Day has slowly become one of my favorite holidays! Yeah! Don't want the perfume or roses anymore. Don't really need to eat the chocolates either. Spending special time with loved ones is what is most important.
Taking time to pick out just the right store-bought Valentine's Day card to send to loved ones far away is nice, although, hand-made cards are lovely. Valentine cards in the past required lace and ribbon. Red colored roses. Hearts and happiness. Handmade love. Poems were popular as well. Pouring out one's heart straight from the soul for that one special love was preferred. Songs written to your loved one would do too. Lives were shorter. Life was harder. Special occasions were more rare, thus, much treasured.
As we say at The Sabot School of Etiquette, one does not have to have money to have manners. A handmade, home cooked Valentine's Day is always more treasured than just writing a check. Making time and taking care to make a thoughtful day for a loved one is most special and unforgettable always.
So, take a breath, plan a bit, make time and enjoy!

* Statistics from: The History Channel, "History of Valentine's Day" show

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Saying You Are Sorry In Your Own Way

A Builder and a Real Estate Developer amicably parted ways 1 1/2 years ago. The builder said the Real Estate Company did not know how to sell houses well. The Real Estate company said the houses were way to expensive for the market and were loaded up with too many upgrades and extras.

After parting ways and 1 1/2 years of not talking, this morning, the Builder called the Real Estate Developer complimenting their company on many other home sales and casually mentioning possible future dealings together, again.

The Real Estate Developer said to me "Isn't this odd?" My response was: "This was his apology."

Some of us can say we are sorry outright, upfront and immediately to the person whom we have offended. Others of us need time, different methods, venues and alternative words, or no words at all. Rather, some of us say we are sorry though various acts of kindness.

Fathers may give out unwarranted compliments, or presents. Husbands and boyfriends may bring flowers. Women may make a great meal or clean a room as a nice surprise. A friend may bring you a small gift for a different reason or in a different venue. Some of us may say we are sorry many, many months later during a calm moment.

Listen. Have patience. Never embarass the other person, chide or judge them harshly for not being able to apologize the way you may apologize. Everyone is different. They need to apologize in their own time, their own way. Accept the compliment. Accept the flowers or gift. Say thank you. Write that thank-you note for the gift. Turn that cheek. Take that leap of faith and forgive, forgive, forgive. Life is short. Life is good!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From the book: Labour-Saving Hints and Ideas For The Home, 1924

Imagine life without cleaning solutions or mothballs. The following are just a few home-made tips to clean your house without spending money on ready-made, store bought household cleaning products, and tips are comprised of items already found in your house for cleaning and fixing things all around your house.

  1. How does one unscrew a light bulb that has broken off in the socket? Rather than purchasing fancy nose needle pliers, use a raw potato. Place it right into the socket and turn counterclockwise. Voila!
  2. How does one clean hard water stains in a sink or bathtub? Go to your spice rack and scrub the tub with Cream of Tartar. This spice can also be spread around areas to get rid of mice and "water bugs" (roaches).
  3. What does one do about ring stains on the antique wooden coffee table, end table, or chest of drawers? Dab mayonnaise or petroleum jelly all around the stain and let it sit for a day or two. Wipe and let it dry. A second application may be needed.
  4. How does one get rid of coffee stains on one's teeth? Swish with white vinegar. (Vinegar is safe, but if you have had complicated dental work or allergies, ask your dentist first). Vinegar can also be used to clean glass in the bathroom, like a shower door.
  5. To prevent moths and spiders, cut up a bar of soap into 1" - 1 1/2" squares and place into drawers and boxes. No stinky moth balls needed!!!
  6. For a sting by a Wasp, rub a slice of white or yellow onion on the sting. If stung in the mouth or on the throat, chew a bit of onion slowly and swallow. A certain cure!
  7. A few drops of lemon squeezed into a pot of water will make the brownest old potato boil white!
  8. When beating eggs or egg whites, add a tiny pinch of salt. The eggs will whip up better and quicker! Use water to stretch scrambled eggs, not milk.
  9. Wash fruit and vegetables in warm water first, then rinse with cold water. Washing in warm water will get rid of any bugs. Lettuce soaked in a sink of warm water and salt will also rid the lettuce of any bugs. I have taken to carefully and gently rinsing delicate raspberries and strawberries with whatever orange juice is left over in the fridge, then rinse in cold water. The citrus removes any bad bacteria or bugs.
  10. One use for stale bread is to bake the bread in an oven until dry. Remove and grind into crumbs. Save the crumbs in an old coffee can for cooking. Can also be frozen inside a freezer bag for 6 months-1 year.

We hope you enjoy these tips from the book: "Labour-Saving Hints and Ideas for the Home", c. 1924, George Routlrdge & Sons, Ltd, London.

Please, write in with your household tips!

Gift Giving in China

Appropriate gift giving in any foreign country is tricky but not complicated once one understands the local customs, traditions and superstitions of the country. A good travel book will have culture included or one can seek out customs in a specific country on the Internet or in a book written on culture at a bookstore, or at the library.
In China, the color white and white flowers are used for funerals, many superstitions surround the numbers 4,9, and 13. Knives, scissors and sharp objects are bad luck to give as a gift in the USA and China. Sometimes in the USA, people give steak knives as a wedding present, and tape a "lucky penny" to the box to alleviate the bad luck, but in China, they do not even believe in a "lucky penny," so stay away from sharp gifts all together. Also, gifts with animals such as Foxes, Wolfs and Badgers are considered to be bad luck.
Giving a clock in China (similar to the old US tradition of covering the clock when someone dies), is associated with death and and evil spirits. US currency(cash), lavish gifts, and food are considered rude.
Appropriate gifts are books, scotch, regional US gifts, and any Company product.
These days, it is simple to do your homework before visiting a foreign country. Enjoy learning about the customs and culture of others. It's fun, and you are a better traveler for the learning!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

LTTE - Elle Magazine Re: Cursing

Dear Madame:
My Husband and my Mother have one thing they agree upon: if I am to wear Haute Couture, I cannot cuss.
I read in the bathtub nightly to relax, but cannot do so while reading your lovely magazine. Luxurious, very expensive couture clothes, lovely fashion stories and spreads, yet the F-Bomb and S-word are all over your magazine. I was frankly a bit taken a back in the tub by the use of these curse words so often. Whether it be a writer-in to a regularly featured column or in a simple article. I cannot believe writers cannot be a bit more creative rather than just so common. We recently had to ask my 13 year old Nephew not to use the D-word on Facebook. Thirteen year olds' think cursing is cool. What is your opinion on cursing?
Please, if you must print curse words within your body of work to up your circulation, or shock value, or because the thirteen year olds' who read the magazine think it is cool, then use a few asterisks. Your intelligent readers, I am sure, will get the general gist. Sorry to sound like an old curmudgeon, but cursing is for people who cannot think of a better word instead, and who do not wear couture.